Youth in Brazil

© UNESCO
Youth practicing Capoeira - Open School Programme - Brazil.

Young women and men have got the creativity, the potential and the capacity to make change happen – for themselves, for their societies, and for the rest of the world. UNESCO’s work with and for youth is committed to empowering young women and men and helping them to work together to drive social innovation and change, participate fully in the development of their societies, eradicate poverty and inequality, and foster a culture of peace. 

Youth are not just beneficiaries of this work – they are essential actors in finding solutions to the issues faced by young people in the world today. Their energy and leadership has been demonstrated across the world, and they must be fully engaged in social development themselves and supported in this work by their societies. 

The United Nations defines ‘youth’ as persons between the ages of 15 and 24. However, we know that the experience of being young can vary enormously across the world, and that ‘youth’ is often a fluid and changing category. As such, context is always an important guide in UNESCO’s definition of youth on specific occasions, and this definition is flexible and can vary between countries and regions.

The partnerships between UNESCO and the Brazilian government have played core roles in designing and implementation national policies on youth, as well as in establishing forums to formulate, implement and monitor programmes focused on youth in the light of the cooperation agreement with the National Youth Department and the National Youth Council.

Data from different sources have consistently shown that youngsters are the main victims and agents of violence. To deepen the knowledge on what causes that, in 1997 the UNESCO Brasilia Office established a line of research on youth, violence and citizenship. Based on the findings of studies carried out up until 2005, the SHS started outlining strategies to manage violence among adolescents and young people and promote their social inclusion.

When it became apparent that acts of violence involving young people increased by 68.2% during weekends, the UNESCO Brasilia Office established a programme in 2000 directed at opening schools on Saturdays and Sundays to provide youngsters and their communities with access to cultural, sports and leisure activities.

The so-called Open School Programme was so successful that in 2004 the Federal Government adopted its methodology as a public policy through a partnership established with the UNESCO Office in Brazil.

Currently, the programme benefits about 4 thousand schools and 4 million individuals all over the country,and has been replicated in Argentina, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

Another example is the Criança Esperança Programme implemented by UNESCO since 2004, in partnership with TV Globo, which contribute towards strengthening communities to develop actions for preventing urban violence, disseminating a culture of peace, promoting human rights by providing artistic, cultural, sports activities, capacity-building in various fields to build citizenship, to create job opportunities and generation of income. The programme plays a key role when it comes to improving the lives of vulnerable groups like African descents, Indigenous peoples, women, children, adolescents, and youth in risky situations – like street children, people living with HIV, drug users, victims of domestic and sexual violence – as well as children and youth with deficiencies. 

As a rule, the interventions carried out by NGOs and supported by UNESCO are those aimed at valuing talents in the community and empowering young people to allow them to play a central role in determining their own future. That can be said of the Afroreggae Cultural Group and the Central Única das Favelas (CUFA), which are both renowned worldwide. The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), in partnership with the UNESCO Brasilia Office and sponsored by Itaú Cultural and Itaú Social Foundation, has studied the experiences developed by these two mentioned groups, in an attempt to build a methodology to have them replicated.

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